I have a bad habit. I have a bad habit, and I’d like to apologize to everyone who is struggling with their mental health, and anyone who ever has – so basically I’d like to apologize to everyone. Why? Because I talk about my mental health positively in the present tense, and negatively in] the past tense, as if it’s only okay for me to talk about negative mental health if it’s something I’ve overcome. That, however, is a gross lie, and I would like to change the way I’ve been perpetuating the idea that these conversations can only be had if it ends with a positive “but I got much better”.
The truth is, I haven’t been doing great lately. Sure, I can put on a smile and have a great time with friends like everything is okay, but it’s not. In a time where I have so much to be proud of, it’s hard to swallow my pride and admit I’m not okay. I don’t know why I’m not okay, and if it were a friend telling me they were feeling this way, I’d tell them it’s okay to not be okay, but I can’t convince myself of this fact. I take comfort in the fact that I’m not as bad as I once was, and that I know my life is worth living, but it’s still incredibly hard. Hope is hard to build up, but it’s also hard to destroy, so I’m holding on to what little I have.
Depression doesn’t give you a reason to be sad, it just demands that you don’t feel okay. Sad isn’t even the right word because it’s more than that, it’s bigger than sadness. It’s emptier, colder, hollower. It has the power to make hours pass in the blink of an eye, though time feels as if it’s standing still. Some days I am lucky, and the depression stays at bay. Lately, it has not been so. Lately, it’s something I’m shocked awake with in the morning, like ice water being splashed on my face. It’s the last thing I think of before drifting into broken sleep.
And like I said, I can’t tell you exactly why I feel this way, if there’s a reason at all. Maybe it’s the ending of a wonderful four years, or the stress of having no plan for the future and being unable to sit with the uncertainty. If that’s the case, I’ll accept that with a smile on my face. Missing what I’ve had means that I had something worth missing, and feeling scared about my uncertain future means I care about having a future. These are two things I didn’t have before.
I’m learning to accept that I can acknowledge that I’m not okay in that moment, that my mental health is not perfect, that there are cracks in this veneer. It’s not something I want to accept, but I know I’m trying, and that’s the most I can ask of myself. That being said, I know I’m struggling to be kind to myself right now. I’m placing demands on myself that I know I will never live up to for no particular reason. But the biggest step I’m taking is being honest, and being vulnerable. Because it’s not fair to my story to only tell of the storms once they have passed. Brene Brown says that “we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable”, and she couldn’t be more correct. I thought I had found a loop in the system because I wasn’t disowning my difficult stories – I was only telling the ones that had already been resolved.
I’m done with only telling stories of my past, and will continue to speak of my journey as it happens in the present. I will continue to tell these stories, of failure, of perseverance, of hardship, until I’m no longer told I am inspiring. Speaking openly about something universal to every single person, whether we want to admit it or not, shouldn’t have to be inspiring. Conversations about mental health should not have to be a sign of immense courage in our society, because they should be automatically welcomed and accepted. So if you’re out there, telling your story, and talking about mental health, don’t ever stop. You’re a trailblazer, and we need you to continue speaking up until speaking up is just having a regular and honest conversation with someone.
I’ve survived my past, I’m surviving my present, and I’ll survive my future too.
Keep Surviving by Living.